Category: Premier Resort

March 23, 2013

Premier Resort Close-Up: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Posted at 12:01 PM by Joe Passov

Home to the raucous Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is a soothing oasis the rest of the year, with flexibility its strongest suit. Large enough to accommodate conventioneers, it has all the amenities a family could want, with North Scottsdale's fine shopping nearby.

Of course, legendary golf offerings are what elevate this property to Silver Medal status, making it great for buddy trips, too. The Fairmont is so close to the action on the par-3 4th and par-4 5th at TPC Scottsdale's Stadium course that the holes could practically get splashed by the resort's swimming complex.

The biggest splash of all, though, is reserved for the Stadium's closing stretch, which includes the rowdiest hole in golf. The par-3 16th is sandwiched between two of the PGA Tour's top risk/reward holes—the island green par-5 15th and the drivable par-4 17th.

Toss in the resort's solid second track (the Champions), the fabled Willow Stream spa, and a slew of outstanding restaurants — notably Arizona's top-rated Mexican fare at La Hacienda — and you can have a Phoenix Open–size celebration (well, almost) during your stay.

480-585-4848,, April rates from $360.

(Photo: Evan Schiller)

October 16, 2012

Premier Resort Close-Up: Sea Island Resort

Posted at 3:21 PM by Joe Passov

Seaisland_2For more than 80 years, luxury lodging in the Lowcountry has meant Sea Island. So how do you improve on a property that's a regular fixture among our top 5 resorts? Simple. Add a popular PGA Tour event to the mix.

In late October, Sea Island resident and Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III hosts the third annual McGladrey Classic, played over Sea Island's Seaside course. The greatest incentive for making the cut at the McGladrey is getting to spend the weekend at Sea Island.

The destination garnered Platinum Medal honors in our 2012 Premier Resorts Awards for many reasons. Naturally, it starts with the three courses at nearby Sea Island Golf Club. Seaside sports classic 1929 Colt-Alison holes that were melded in 1999 into an up-to-date coastal risk-reward masterpiece by Tom Fazio.

Walter Travis, Dick Wilson and Rees Jones contributed to the Plantation, while the Love brothers, Davis and Mark, earn high marks for the redesign they did on the Retreat course.

Still, what elevates Sea Island into rarified air are the superior service and restaurants, the Cloister and Lodge accommodations, a world-class spa and a stunning beach right outside the front door.

It's no wonder that Sea Island landed the No. 1 position for lodging in our recent rankings. It could keep the top spot for years to come.

November rates from $395. 888-732-4752,

(Photo: Courtesy of Sea Island Resort)

December 28, 2011

Premier Resort Close-Up: Turnberry Isle Miami

Posted at 6:32 PM by Joe Passov


Four years after a $150 million renovation was completed at the 392-room Turnberry Isle Miami, this Golf Magazine Premier Resort Silver Medalist still shines as bright as the Florida sun.

Raymond Floyd re-energized the property's 36 holes, originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., adding contoured fairways, waste areas and new bunkering. The Soffer Course, named for the property's owner, is the longer (7,047 yards) and tougher of the pair, with palm tree-lined fairways plus an island green on the 18th hole, adjacent to the state's largest waterfall.

The Miller Course (shorter by almost 700 yards) makes good use of Lake Julius on numerous back-nine holes. Any pain inflicted by high scores can be eased at The Spa & Fitness Center (where you might consider a golf-swing analysis and fitness assessment) or by soaking up the sun a short shuttle ride away at the resort's private Ocean Club on the Atlantic.

Michael Mina's Bourbon Steak is the top dining option at the resort, located 20 minutes south of Fort Lauderdale Airport and 30 minutes north of Miami's South Beach.

Stay and Play packages start at $649. 305-932-6200,

(Photo: Nile Young)

September 08, 2011

Premier Resort Close-Up: Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

Posted at 12:30 PM by

Ojai It's no coincidence that renowned mental-game consultant Dr. Joseph Parent decided to establish his headquarters at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, nestled in the foothills 90 minutes north of Los Angeles — there is perhaps no better location to teach the art of zen golf.

A Silver Medal honoree in Golf Magazine's 2010 Premier Resorts, Ojai has it all: a golf course that's brimming with history, sumptuously appointed rooms and suites, a spa, and a 220-acre location with sprawling Spanish Colonial–style architecture. At 6,292 yards, the on-site Ojai Country Club course won't break you with length, but the quirky track does require strategic shot selections. Given its manageable yardage, the course is exceptionally playable from any set of tees, but the standout hole is a real brute — the visually intimidating 203-yard 16th, which requires a full carry over several daunting bunkers.

After your round, Jimmy's Pub serves excellent casual fare (don't miss the guacamole), but if you're in the mood for a more refined experience, you can't go wrong at Maravilla. Just make sure to pair your meal with a glass of the Ojai Vineyard Syrah — you won't be disappointed.

October green fees are $180 and room rates start at $300 per room.

(Photo: Aidan Bradley)

July 26, 2011

Empire Swing: Shenendoah at Turning Stone Resort

Posted at 10:52 AM by Joe Passov

The par-4 3rd hole at Shenendoah. Photo: Larry Lambrecht.

Shenendoah at Turning Stone Resort
Verona, N.Y.
7,129 yards, par 72
Green fees: $95-$150

Lacrosse has long been the game of the Oneida Indian Nation in upstate New York. But golf has become its calling card over the past decade in the form of Turning Stone Resort, with three 18-hole layouts on Tribal land four and a half hours north of New York City. The original Shenendoah layout, ranked second in the state on Golf Magazine's Best Courses You Can Play, stands out among brethren Atunyote (Tom Fazio) and Kaluhyat (Robert Trent Jones Jr.).

This Rick Smith design, named for a legendary Tribal chief and opened in 2000, remains the most interesting of the trio thanks largely to memorable mid-length par 4s like the 398-yard 7th, where a lake down the left pressures both drives and approaches. Overall it's a less bruising round than both nearby Atunyote, venue for a PGA Tour event from 2007-2010, and the adjacent Kaluhyat course. The rest of the facility, complete with a casino, multiple hotels and the AAA Four-Diamond Wildflowers restaurant, earned a Silver Medal in Golf Magazine's 2010 Premier Resort rankings.

Another draw is the resort's "Be Our Next Champion" package (starting at $500 per person): two nights' accommodations, one round on all three courses and unlimited same-day replays on Shenendoah. You can also now toast success on the course or at the tables: the liquor license granted last year means alcohol is now available at all guest areas. Forget the cooler and just bring the sticks.

May 14, 2011

Premier Resort Close-Up: Fairmont Banff Springs

Posted at 3:16 PM by Joe Passov

Banff Golf Magazine's highest-ranked Canadian golf resort is the Fairmont Banff Springs, which captured Gold Medal status in 2010. This year the property celebrates 100 years of organized golf with a variety of special events and packages.

Neither the William Thompson original nine nor the Donald Ross redo remain, but what's left are 27 memorable holes set inside the Rocky Mountain scenery of Banff National Park. Combine that with a castle-like edifice and its 11 dining and drinking establishments, horseback riding and the Willow Stream Spa, and it's easy to see why our readers draped a gold medal around its neck.

When most folks speak of golf at Banff, they're referring to the Stanley Thompson-designed 18 that debuted in 1928. Artfully crafted mounds and bunkers mimic mountain shapes in the distance, resulting in classics such as the 4th and the 14th.

Mountain scenery practically overpowers you at the 192-yard, par-3 4th, called "Devil's Cauldron," with a downhill plunge over a glacial lake, while the 475-yard, par-4 15th starts with an elevated tee shot over the confluence of the Bow and Spray Rivers. Tackle Banff in September and you'll dodge elk in the fairways.

Stay and Play packages start at $299 CDN per night ($312 USD).

April 16, 2011

Premier Resort Close-Up: Kiawah Island Golf Resort

Posted at 10:32 AM by Joe Passov

Kiawah Kiawah Island Golf Resort
Kiawah Island, S.C.

The golf world will reacquaint itself with Kiawah when it plays host to the 2012 PGA Championship, but proponents of this peerless property like it just fine without the fanfare.

A Platinum Medal winner in our past two Premier Resorts Awards, Kiawah is a 10,000-acre coastal resort that serves up ten miles of private beach, 30 miles of marsh-lined, forested paths and access to nearby Charleston, although golf is unquestionably the top draw.

All five courses are worthy, but the Pete Dye-designed Ocean Course is the "must-play." Softer and more playable than its 1991 "War by the Shore" Ryder Cup incarnation, it's a still a beast but a blast to play, unless you foolishly take it on from the tips.

Accommodations take several forms, none better than the Sanctuary hotel, with its twin, curving staircases off the lobby, excellent spa and superb restaurants. If you're craving Gone With the Wind Southern charm mixed with major championship golf and sophisticated amenities, Kiawah Island Golf Resort is second to none.

Stay and play packages in May start at $246 per person per night.

February 25, 2011

Premier Resort Close-Up: The Boulders Resort

Posted at 4:05 PM by

Boulder The Boulders Resort
Carefree, Arizona

In the 23 years that Golf Magazine has been ranking the best golf resorts in the country, only five properties have won Gold status or better every time. One of this elite group is The Boulders, where low-slung adobe casitas nestle into gigantic rocks on the northern edge of Scottsdale.

Still, while the cactus forests and mountain backdrops captivate, it's the resort's modern amenities that elevate The Boulders.

Jay Morrish sculpted two superb courses from the high desert here. While many contend that the North Course is the stronger of the two, it's undeniable that the South has the more spectacular holes—including the first and fifth, which have greens tucked into six-story boulder complexes.

Guests may debate the better golf course, but most seem to agree about the Golden Door Spa, which is about as idyllic a retreat from a day on the course as seems possible. But the real star of the property is The Latilla restaurant, where the food is simply outstanding (the roasted venison short loin is terrific, but burger fans should sample the resort's gruyère-infused version at least once).

Bottom line: for buddies or couples, the Boulders rocks. Stay and Play packages in March start at $679 per night. 888-579-2631,

(Photo: The Boulders Resort)

March 07, 2010

Premier Resort Close-Up: Beau Rivage Resort & Casino

Posted at 11:53 AM by Joe Passov

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina demolished almost ninety percent of the structures within a half mile of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. But exactly one year later, MGM's Beau Rivage Resort & Casino reopened, following a $550-million renovation.April_fallenoak_600x400

The Beau Rivage can challenge any Las Vegas property for bells and whistles. Stunning water views from many rooms, a full-service fitness center and spa, a wide range of gaming options and a superb set of restaurants are among the attractions.

Still, the resort's top draw is the Fallen Oak Golf Club. Ranked No. 29 our Top 100 Courses You Can Play, Fallen Oak is a tranquil but tough Tom Fazio beauty that rolls through woods and wetlands on the edge of the DeSoto National Forest. The 7,487-yard layout is laced with lakes and deep bunkers — but not with roads or homes. It's just you, your caddie and nature.

Celebrate your round at Fallen Oak's sunken bar with a Lazy Magnolia Indian Summer Pale Ale, from Mississippi's only microbrewery.

April package rates start at $518 per room per night. 888-750-7111,

(Image Courtesy of Beau Rivage Resort)

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